THE SECRETS OF TABO MONASTERY IN SPITI HIMACHAL PRADESH
Brewing in the breeze of the Himalayas are the fluttering prayer flags leading to a destination that’s a millennium old.
Welcome to the Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh, the supposed Ajanta of the North India trip.
Nestled amidst a landscape in India that is second to none, this monastery is an indubitable asset to the country and Indian Buddhism. Moreover, it is the only UNESCO world heritage site that rocks in the cradle of the Himalayas and at the same time scores some extra brownie points in spiritual tourism.
The level of its serenity is such that the hectic ride through the tricky terrain of Spiti Valley won’t bother you. Undoubtedly, the blaze of positivity it hits you with, right from the moment you enter its vicinity is impalpable. Still, there are a lot of things we are sure you do not know about the destination. So, without any further ado let’s jump right into it mate.
Where to find Tabo India?
Far from the bane of urbanization, Tabo Gompa shines on the barren, rocky desert of Tabo village in Himachal Pradesh. At an inordinate height of 3050 m, Tabo is the real-life heaven that is free from the tribulations of humanity. It has its foundation strongly gripped over the state on the banks of the holy Spiti River. Whoever wishes for its patronage finds itself basking in its glory on a scenic road trip to Spiti.
Whether or not you have been able to find this place on the GPS, Tabo discovers every heart that seeks answers. Plus, the number of caves lying above the monastery on the valley slope elevates the wow-factor. Hard to believe? Let’s wait until you get there for a little change in opinions.
Basking in the History hues
The foundation of Tabo Monastery was laid back in 996 AD by a Buddhist King of Purange-Guge dynasty. According to the Tibetan calendar, it was the year of the First Ape. Inscriptions show that it was renovated 46 years after that, but that’s just about it. Still, what is important for you is that it is the oldest operational Buddhist monastery in India of all time and we know for sure it is enough to get you there.
Acing an A in Architecture!
Have you ever heard of time travel? Does the thought of it get you excited? Yes? Then, We are sure that you will love the false, yet affirmative time travel this monastery confer.
Tabo Monastery comprises of structures and paintings dating back to 10th, 15th and 20th centuries. However, from a distance, the whole complex looks like a mud settlement or a sandcastle stuck in a valley.
Furthermore, this perfect blend of unusual and serene makes Tabo India the most revered UNESCO World Heritage Site it is today. This “Ajanta of the Himalayas” has murals painted on its wall illustrating the stories of Buddha’s life. As a result of which, the village is dripping in positivity and you will get a good taste of it the moment you’ll enter its radar.
The flamboyance of the Main Temple
- Tsuglagkhang is the main temple of Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh.
- The walls of this hall are decked up with 33 stucco work Bodhisattvas sculptures. Protruding out of the walls, these murals do look very alive.
- Two blue deity gods guard the main entrance of the Main Gompa.
- The walls here at the main temples narrates the tales of Buddha’s life and Bodhisattvas.
- There are wooden pillars standing on hallowed base floors raising a glass window ceiling.
- Paintings dating back to 996 CE and 1042 CE do exist here.
- The main focus of this structure is on the four-bodied Vairocana Buddha turning the wheel of law.
- The main temple also houses the Tabo Gompa- a Mandala in the center of the assembly hall.
Byams-Pa Chen-Po Lha-Khang
It is a structure with a 3m-high statue of the Maitreya (future Buddha) draped in golden cloth. It gracefully holds up a reddened palm as a sign of meditation.
Just outside the ancient complex, there are sights of shining chortens with the spherical midriffs and a brand new monastery. Which in fact looks
Cave Jaunts in Tabo Monastery
Home to monks in the ancient times, Caves today at Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh are haphazardly sprinkled over the topography. Don’t worry! You will still be able to spot them.
On this caving experience on your iconic India trip, there are good chances that you will come across the cave resting in the complex. That’s your cue! Don’t forget to survey it inside out for a mental image that will solve most of your queries.
Note: The guide can take you to far-off caves as well, but only if you ask for it. Please do ask him for this favor and you will definitely thank us later.
Rock Carvings in Tabo Monastery
Rock carvings in Tabo aren’t limited to the caves or the walls of the monastery. If you keenly observe you will find these rock carvings scattered graciously in the village too. Do you wish to save yourself from all that effort? Then, there are well-preserved rocks at a government complex behind the village school. We told you we have your back.
Things to do in Tabo Monastery
Dine for the heart at local Tibetan And Multi-cuisine Cafés
Coming to Tabo and not experiencing its culinary expertise is a bummer. Plus, the fact that you get to gorge on flavorful Tibetan and Italian cuisine after a tiresome ride up here is amazeballs. Just thinking about is tantalizing our taste buds. Yes, it is that good.
The food is amazing, the ambiance is vibrant and above all the setting is heavenly. What more you can ask for?
Embrace the past at the Public Library
Come relive the past a little elaborately in the land of the divine. Objectify bliss while gazing at a gilded scenery of the Himalayas. Feel the force of Buddhism while you stroll around its ancient marvels and read about them in depth at the public library. Be that as it may, it’s a treat for the mind and soul and you will love it.
Explore caves down the steep slopes of Tabo
Hiking to the caves in Tabo is one of the experiences you cannot miss. Just grab your cameras and let the panoramic views of Tabo do the magic. Encounter the rock carvings and the meditation grounds of monks in these caves. Still, have time to spare? Take with you some prayer flags and tie them up there for some great mojo.
Cleanse your palette with the monastery tea and live with the monks
No, the monks won’t be chilling and drinking. On the contrary, in Tabo Monastery you do have the opportunity to live with them under the same roof. As much as the tea here gives you a chance to bond with fellow backpackers and travelers, living with the monk will give you a larger perspective towards life. So, learn a thing or two from everyone you meet. Absorb all the good vibes and let it out into the universe for a beautiful balance of energies.
Fun Facts About Tabo Monastery
- The Tabo Monastery complex has a total of 9 temples, 4 Stupasand 23 Chortens with numerous painting in them. Unluckily, they all aren’t out for display. So, try your luck and ask the guide about them beforehand.
- Tabo is actually the spot for the union of Indian and Tibetan cultures. Many Tibetan scholars in the past have come here to learn from Indian Buddhist scholars. Moreover, many Hindu priests too traveled extreme terrains in order to learn the Tibetan language. Seems like Tabo is too a strong contender for the list of famous places for experiencing culture in India.
- You are actually giving back to the community while taking a trip to Tabo India. How? Life in Tabo revolves around the monastery and the small tourism economy it generates. Coming here equals to helping them, a complete win-win yeah!
- Shutterbug alert! Photography is a big no inside the temples. But don’t you worry, you can still take back memories of our travel as postcards. Quite vintage!
- Dalai Lama himself did a Kalachakra initiation in the new monastery built in 1996 celebrating Tabo’s 1000+ years. We are sure this must have rung a million bells on your head.
Best Time to visit the Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh
Post summers and pre monsoons are probably the best times to visit Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh.
To avoid the weather mayhem
During this time the weather is very pleasant during the day. Although the nights are slightly chilly, it isn’t very extreme. Perfect time for sightseeing and daylight excursions, don’t you think?
More accessible routes
Most roads are open during this time. Especially the Rohtang Pass and the Kunzum La Pass, which are quite important on a road trip to Spiti.
Monsoon, eh what?
It’s no secret that Spiti Valley is mostly a desert. As a result, rain expectancy is below 10 mm a year. Well, that number is never a hurdle, right?
How to get there?
Traveling to Tabo Monastery is definitely an adventure trip to India worth taking. This spectacle of mankind is best reached from New Delhi which is about 700 km away. All you have to do is to take an adventure trip to Spiti either via Manali or Shimla.
For easier commutation, we suggest you travel it by the Shimla trail with Reckong Peo as a popular transit stop.
Note: State-run HRTC buses also ply these routes to Tabo Monastery in Spiti Himachal Pradesh.
Dhankar (35 km)
Are you planning to take the road less traveled to Spiti Valley? Then, missing out on Dhankar is the last thing you will want to do.
It is the long-lost capital of Spiti which can only be reached after a nerve-wracking motorbike ride. However, it is not the natural fiestas that help Dhankar secure a place on the map of Himachal. Rather, it is the Dhankar Gompa and Dhankar Fort doing the honors. So, if you are someone who enjoys the company of infinite sky and brown slopes, this is the place for you to be.
Kaza (50 km)
The capital of Spiti, Kaza is the epicenter for every Buddhist trip and adventure venture at this terrain. Moreover, Kaza is the largest town in Lahaul and Spiti and is located at the altitude of 12,500 feet on the bank of Spiti River.
Housing a good number of the population, a trip to Kaza feels like traveling to a wonderland resting in another. Furthermore, this soul-stirring beauty is probably the only place in Spiti Valley where you can see markets, hotels, and other new-age amenities.
Key (54 km)
Key in Himachal is the epitome of bliss in Spiti Valley.
Ornamented by an array of white structures, the valley drenches in tranquility amidst the monochrome of nature.
Key is the home to the largest monastery of Spiti Valley, Key Monastery. However, if it is not for the scenic charms or spiritual relevance for what it is famous, it has to be for its survival through the sands of time.
The village of Key lives by the principle of Buddhism, making it a prime attraction for Buddhist tours in India.
A shutterbug paradise, a natural marvel and one of the stars of the Indian rural sky, Kibber is everything a traveling heart desires. Moreover, at an elevation of 4205 meters above sea level, this village basks in the glory of its wildlife sanctuary.
Kibber houses not more than 80 homes which are built in the same Tibetan fashion. Furthermore, Kibber accords that “end of the world” vibe and makes you never forget the way it made you feel. Isn’t that just amazing?